What exactly is the Tour of Champions? The Tour of Champions is:

  • A remarkable gathering of all the current corps that have won the DCI Division I World Championship since DCI's inception in 1972.
  • Possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event, so we're mighty glad you're on board to witness history in the making.
  • The first-time gathering of top DCI corps of this caliber in exhibition performances.
  • The first such mass gathering of corps, competition or exhibition, ever to appear in California. 
  • All the above and much, much more.

Californians have long waited for something like this to bless their state, and so it seems appropriate that the first DCI Tour of Champions is sweeping through the Golden State with the determination of the Santa Ana Winds. First to witness this phenomenal extravaganza is San Diego, then Pasadena, then an indoor event in Cupertino, with the final field event in San Jose. These events were made possible by the contributions of each of the participating corps. Well before the season began, each corps member had to commit to their corps that they would participate in this tour. The directors of each corps wanted the performances here in California to be just as good and just as intense as at the recent Drum Corps International World Championships in Denver. Not only will each corps present its entire field show, but each corps will also tantalize the audience with a "bonus track" upon completion of its competition program. This is something no one outside California has experience from each of the corps. We've long heard about the dedication and support of the drum corps activity from California fans. It is for all of you that DCI is proud to present the 2004 Tour of Champions. How was the order picked? The order of performance was selected according to how many Drum Corps International Championships each championship corps has to its credit. The corps are performing in reverse order of number of championships won. Therefore, the Phantom Regiment with one title is performing first, followed by the Madison Scouts with two, the Cavaliers with five (as of the establishment of this criteria), the Santa Clara Vanguard with six, the Cadets with eight and the Blue Devils with eleven.

How did it all come together? Michael Cesario, designer of the Michael Cesario Collection for Fred J. Miller, Inc., has coordinated special performances by the massed championship corps. Michael was with the corps in Cedar City, Utah, yesterday, on the campus of Southern Utah University. Cedar City is about halfway between Denver and San Diego, and the location provided a spot for the corps to commune together and put together the massed works that will entertain the audiences on the Tour of Champions. The corps put together tonight's spectacle in the 104-degree heat that met them in Utah. Granted, it was a "dry" heat, but hey, it was still 104. All the corps worked together in the heat to bring together the special never-before-seen features in this week's show, displaying an overwhelming degree of energy. Pat Seidling, director of the Phantom Regiment, made all arrangements for the six corps to rehearse and stay at Southern Utah University. The brass all stayed in the "brass dorm," the percussion in the "percussion dorm" and the guard in the "guard dorm," helping further unite the individual corps into one special ensemble of champions. The food wagons of the six corps formed a circle and the corps ate in the middle, enjoying offerings from each of the other corps' food staffs. An Iron Chef Cook-0ff treated corps members to various foodstuffs made by each of the six corps' food staffs, each utilizing specific amounts and types of ingredients, but featuring their own personal recipes with the identical offerings. 

What will we see? "Fanfare and Star-Spangled Banner," written by J.D. Shaw, arranger for the Boston Brass and Phantom Regiment, is being performed tonight by all the "championship trumpets" from each of the six corps, including one snare drummer and an American flag and honor guard from each corps. You have never before heard our National Anthem performed with such intensity. Shaw attended the rehearsal in Cedar City, which was run by Mark Waymire of the Madison Scouts and Dan Farrell of the Phantom Regiment. Look to the giant stadium video monitor prior to the performance of each corps with a clip about the history of the corps about to perform, produced by Emmy winner Tom Blair, who produces the annual DCI broadcast and this year also brought us the quarterfinals show simulcast in the Regal Theaters chain. After each corps' performance, we'll witness an "Instant Encore." You'll just have to eagerly await what special bonus each corps has in store for us. Over 400 horns from all the combined corps are performing "Fanfare of Champions" at the end of the show, written by Jay Kennedy, vice president of the famed Berkelee School of Music. This massed piece of heroic majesty also incorporates the symphonic percussion from the Phantom Regiment and numerous timpani from all the corps. The brilliantly scored work is based on themes from the past of each of the corps, so put on your listening caps and see if you can identify each of the musical snippets from your DCI memory bank (or CD/DVD collection). In Cedar City, the Cadets' Director, George Hopkins, taught the massed "Sing, Sing, Sing." The Cadets' drum line is featured in this knock-your-socks-off tour-de-force. Drill for the piece was written by the Cavaliers' Michael Gaines, and music was written by Dennis DeLucia, former drum arranger and instructor for the Bridgemen and now of the DCI broadcast, with horn parts written by famed brass instructor and arranger Frank Dorritie. Jeff Fiedler, director of The Cavaliers, taught the drill, which commences with all the corps spread out like a giant peacock's tail and then brings all the corps together into a tight block to scream and wail and push you back in your stadium seat. If you don't find a pulse on yourself when this grand finale selection is finished, don't worry. Your heart will restart by itself when it decides it's safe to come out from hiding.